Design and Logo Placement on Shirts 101

Jun 24, 2024

Asal Azimi

Asal Azimi

Creating a memorable and well-crafted logo for your clothing line is an important step in the design process. A key element in this process is the logo placement. A strategic and well-thought-out placement is the “cherry on top” that establishes brand recognition. It creates a visual identity and allows customers to easily notice and remember the brand amid the many options available on the market.

In today's fast-paced fashion industry, every design step has to be carefully considered if you want to stand your ground and create a successful brand. 

This is why we created this complete guide to help you explore the most effective placements, design techniques and printing methods for logos and designs. Whether your goal is to launch your clothing line or if you simply want to take your brand logo to the next level: Just keep reading!

The importance of logos 

Just like any artist or painter would personalize their artwork with a signature, a logo has a quite similar purpose: It allows designers to add a touch of personality to their fashion creations and make them recognizable. 

quote card saying "fashion is more art than art is" by andy warhol

A logo is a vital tool in defining a fashion brand's identity, building trust, creating a visual connection, and setting it apart in a competitive market. It conveys the brand's values, style, and aesthetics to the target audience, fostering a sense of professionalism and credibility.

A well-designed and distinctive logo can also be applied to various marketing materials, ensuring a cohesive brand presence and consumer loyalty.

several green shirts on hangers lined up on a clothes rack

Source: Unsplash

Design print terms: a quick overview

To get a better picture of the creative process for custom design, knowing some key design terms can help you along the way. 

  1. Print size: This is the exact size of your design when printed on a t-shirt, hoodie, polo shirt or any other garment.  It's critical to do this properly since you want your design to look as intended when worn. If you size your design wrong, it may result in a low-quality print.

  2. Print area: This is the overall area available on the object for your design to come to life. This section is defined by several factors, including material, form, and size.

  3. Print location: This is the part on the garment where your design will be shown. Whether it's front and center, on the sleeve, or somewhere else, the print placement defines where your design appears.

  4. Print placement: This depends on the positioning of the print. It is the precise placement of your design within the print area.

  5. Maximum size: This term implies the largest recommended dimensions for printing a design or logo on a garment without affecting print quality or the garment itself. This is frequently decided by the size of the garment, the printing procedure, and the quality of the artwork.

Printing Techniques

DTFx Printing Method (Direct-to-Film) 

DTFx is an on-demand printing method that offers full-color, long-lasting, and striking prints. Because of the high quality, brightness, and durability, it's sometimes referred to as "on-demand screen printing". The ink is typically printed on thicker fabrics and hoodies since it lies on top of the fabric just like screen printing ink.

Source: Youtube Channel Transfer Express

Here are some best practices for DTFx Printing:

  • We advise placing your design on a transparent background. Avoid big, blocky patterns on DTFx since it rests on top of the clothing and is less breathable (particularly on lighter-weight materials).

  • When creating your logo or design, choose 300 DPI for the best print quality

  • Export your design in RGB or CMYK color mode

  • Avoid fades and transparency

Direct-to-Garment (DTG)

Direct-to-garment printing is a way of creating t-shirts in which a specific digital printer applies water-based inks directly to fabric surfaces. 

DTG printing obtains pictures for printing from digital data. This allows DTG printers to print practically any color with high resolution and sharpness. DTG can print on a variety of t-shirt fabrics, including cotton, polyester, and cotton/polyester mixes. However, the results are best when printed on natural fabrics like cotton.

Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)

Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is a quick, simple, and cost-effective method to create sophisticated, and costume-printed clothing. By using a computer, a commercial heat press, and a vinyl cutter or digital printer, you can decorate almost any fabric.

Benefits of Using HTV:

  • When compared to other types of clothing printing such as screen printing, embroidery, or dye-sublimation printing, this method is quite inexpensive.

  • This printing technique allows for a quick turnaround time due to the minimal setup time.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation shirt printing is a technique for transferring complex designs, patterns, or images on fabric using specific ink and heat. Unlike standard printing methods, which sit on the fabric's surface, sublimation printing penetrates the fibers, resulting in brilliant and long-lasting graphics that will not fade quickly. 

Most prints stick to the top layer of fabric, while sublimation ink soaks into the fabric, similar to tie-dye.

Pros of Sublimation Printing: 

  • Vibrant colors: Sublimation produces bright, long-lasting colors, making it excellent for detailed and vivid designs. Printing a few full-color graphics is now easier than ever, compared to the preparation, setup, and teardown necessary for methods like screen printing or heat transfer.

  • Long-lasting: Since the designs are part of the fabric, they are resistant to fading, breaking, and peeling.

  • Breathability: Sublimation printing does not leave a heavy layer on the cloth, thus the shirt remains comfortable.

  • All-Over Printing: With sublimation, you can print your design from edge to edge, covering the entire shirt. 

Design Placement: How to pick the right spot

Placing a logo on apparel is a fundamental yet subtle art. The location should be carefully chosen by designers to guarantee optimal impact and visibility. Anywhere from the sleeve to the chest to a little embroidered detail, the location might affect how people perceive the brand.

High-end creators, for instance, frequently go for subtle logo placement, which lets the garment's quality and workmanship shine through. On the other hand, streetwear brands often use big, bold logos to convey their urban flair. Here are some options, that might help and inspire you:

Center Chest Design Placement:

a model wearing black t shirt with center logo placement

Source: Unsplash

The placement, size, and degree of detail of a centered design are important considerations when placing it on the front of a shirt. 

  • Design Type: Medium-sized designs, including phrases, logos, or straightforward artwork, function well in this placement. Make use of eye-catching, high-quality, yet basic design components that are easy on the eyes.

  • Placement: Verify that your designs aren't positioned too high, too low, or out of center on your shirt. For this reason, we advise positioning your design around 2.5–3 inches (6-7 cm) below the neck.

  • Print Size: Select a size for your design that will make it simple to see and not seem heavy. We advise creating a pattern that is 6–10 inches across and 6–8 inches tall. In the long run,  this is a matter of taste and personal opinion, but a width of 6 to 10 inches is considered the "standard" size.

Left Chest Logo & Design Placement 

Source: Unsplash

This placement is very popular and common among many brands. A great option for this placement is embroidery. If you're considering this position, bear the following in mind:

Design Type: This placement works best for small designs, such as logos, and is comparable to the center chest placement. While brief text and small artwork might work well in this placement, logos are the ideal choice. A lot of popular brands are renowned for placing their logos on the left chest of their shirts.

Placement: We recommend positioning your design around 2 inches (or 5 cm) away from the armpit and 3 inches (7 cm) below the neckline.

Print Size: We recommend reducing the size of this design to 2.5–5 inches (6–12 cm) in width and 2.5–5 inches (6–12 cm) in height.

Full front logo and design placement

model with a logo t shirt on the front

Source: Unsplash

Full front design placements make up most of the front of your shirt's print space. Here are some facts you should consider:

  • Design Type: For more complex or bold designs, the full front placement works best. Since there is more space and they will be more visible, these designs can be more detailed. Make sure the file you submit has high quality to prevent blurry printing in the final stage.

  • Placement: When using this specific placement, your design will often take up the whole print space. We advise taking particular care to position it precisely in the center of your garment, not too close to the collar or the shirt's bottom.

  • Print Dimensions: We recommend enlarging this design to 10-12 inches (25-31 cm) in width and 10-14 inches (25-35 cm) in height. Since it needs to be seen from all angles and to fit inside the print area, the design must be scaled suitably for the entire front placement. A design that is too big runs the risk of being disrupted by the product's seams.

Back of Shirt Logo and Design Placements

Upper Back Design Placement

model with print on the back of tshirt

Source: Unsplash

A t-shirt's back offers lots of space for displaying a pattern or message. If you decide to use this placement, bear the following points in mind:

  • Design Type: A medium-sized design is typically required for this placement, much like for the center chest placement. For this placement, logos, relatively small artwork, or a short text would be most effective. If you want to use more of the upper back surface area, think about choosing a design that is shorter and wider.

  • Placement: We advise positioning your design approximately 5 inches below the collar.

  • Print Size: We recommend that this design be made longer, measuring between 1-6 inches (2.5–15 cm) and 10–12 inches (25–31 cm) broad. 

Full Back Logo and Design Placement

full back logo tshirt placement

Source: Unsplash

When displaying designs that need a lot of space, full-back design placement is a preferred choice. The following guidelines will help you properly position your logo or design across the entire back:

  • Design Type: As with the entire front design placement, this layout usually requires a larger design. The ideal design for this placement would be a detailed graphic or an enlarged version of your brand's logo.

  • Placement: Your design will probably take up the whole back print area. We suggest making extra effort to make sure your design is positioned entirely in the very middle of the product. The shirt's collar and shoulders ought to determine the placement of the design.

  • Print Dimensions: This artwork should be rather large, measuring 6 to 15 inches (15 to 38 cm) in height and 10 to 12 inches (25 to 31 cm) in width.

Sleeve Logo & Design Placement

sleeve logo placement

Source: Unsplash

The sleeve is an ideal spot to print a simple logo or design that matches the main design on the front or back of the shirt. However, keep in mind that the sleeve area has more limited space, so designs should be simple and clean. By the way, this is an excellent placement for embroidery! If this placement is the right choice for you, here are a few things to remember:

  • Design Type: Sleeve designs work well with small logos or other branding elements. Given the limited space for display, go for something small and basic.

  • Placement: Printing towards the top or middle of the sleeve usually offers the best visibility, though placement on the sleeve can vary. Steer clear of positioning your design too close to the shirt's underarm or any seams.

  • Print Size: This placement truly depends on the size of your design. Make sure your sleeve design is tailored to the shirt's size and other design aspects. The ideal dimensions: 4 inches (10 cm) wide and 3.5 inches (9 cm) tall.

To find the best design placement, you should experiment with different styles. As a designer, having fun with your fashion projects can fuel your creativity…and sometimes thinking outside the fashion box can inspire you in ways you never imagined!